Traditional Fabrics of Ivory Coast

Traveling through the different regions of northern Ivory Coast we find the craft production of traditional materials.

Traditional Kita

The “kita” or also called “kente” is the traditional material that is worked on the looms. Men are organized in a cooperative called Association of Young Artisans of the Ivory Coast (AJACI).

The origin of these material is in the Akan people, coming from Ghana and from the east of Ivory Coast, they taught northern peoples the art of weaving with their methods. The small Ivorian population of Waraniéné is located just a few kilometers away from Korhogo and it is home to the largest concentration of looms in the north of the Ivory Coast. The village of Waraniéné currently has 354 operating looms, used by almost 500 weavers and apprentices working in a kind of hangar built by a German NGO.

Waraniene in Ivory Coast

Waraniéné is into the Senufo territory and whereas in other parts synthetic yarn is used here it is still woven traditionally with cotton, producing very consistent fabrics. Habitually this office passes from father to son, being men the ones in charge to weave the bands of about 12 centimeters in width that will be sewn together forming large fabrics and women who embroider and sell them.

Senufo fabrics are decorated with geometric lines and descriptive paintings of their houses, masks, panther men or mythological animals. They are painted in black directly on the raw cotton fabric with some wooden sticks and some are colored with natural products. Each one has a cultural, political or religious significance. These thick and irregular spun cotton fabrics are still used as clothing in the north of the country, worn by peasants, hunters and dancers during their rites and celebrations representing leopards in the Boloyé dances.

The traditional Baoulé, Kita or Senufo fabrics continue to dress the Ivorians in their celebrations. Although more and more industrial printed fabrics are used, traditional fabrics continue to have great social value and are present in all their ceremonies.

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